Formerly stray dog pulls elderly owner from frozen lake, gets a special reward

One day, while walking in the forest with his dog, Badger, Derik Hodgson got injured. Dogs are known to be loyal, so Badger didn’t hesitate to save his owner who needed help then. For his bravery and loyalty, Purina, the well-known pet food company, inducted Badger into their Animal Hall of Fame 2015, a prestige shared with just three other dogs in all of Canada.

Derik Hodgson is a passionate photographer. Some years ago on a -20º Celsius afternoon in February, he decided to head out after noticing some eagles flying around above the lake near his home. Worried the eagles might fly away before he could capture photographs of them, he rushed out of the cabin where he lived alone with Badger without wearing his winter jacket and left his phone behind.

Once they reached the edge of the lake, Derik continued walking onto the frozen waters with Badger alongside him. It was there that he lost his balance suddenly and fell hard on the ice. According to Purina Canada’s website, Derik tried to get up on his own, but could not bring himself to his feet and was panicking and in shock. Severe pain shot up his entire leg. It was discovered later that the pain was a result of his leg being broken in two places along with a ruptured tendon – essentially crippling him on the ice with no one in sight.

Derik, then 71 years old, tried yelling, desperately hoping for someone to hear him even though he knew that it was very unlikely for people to be there. He almost gave up when it occurred to him that his loyal canine companion was still by his side.

He grabbed onto Badger’s collar and urged him to “mush,” a term in dogsledding, commanding the dog to move or pull. Tugging on Badger’s collar for dear life, they both reached home, enabling Derik to crawl to his phone and call 911 and eventually got treated in the hospital. Many people have asked Derik if he was surprised by the whole incident and his response to that is:

“I am alive because of a dog I saved in the woods.

You see, Badger was simply returning the favor: 10 years prior to the accident, Derik saved Badger’s life. Badger was just a puppy when he was abandoned in the woods. Derik found him, took him in, and the two lived together in the cabin ever since. Little did he know that Badger would also eventually become his life-saving hero.

Michelle Walsh, Derik’s partner, took Badger into her home in Ottawa while Derik recovered in the hospital. “That’s what friends do, friends help one another,” Derik, who can now finally walk without a cane, said.

For his heroic actions, pet food company Purina inducted Badger into their Animal Hall of Fame 2015, a prestige shared with just three other dogs in all of Canada. Ever grateful for Badger, Derik added, “He’s my friend, I was in real trouble, he helped me, now God bless him.”

The story of Derik and Badger was first published five years ago but we believe it is one that will be talked about for years. Pass this along to your friends and family so they, too, can learn about Badger’s heroism.